"The tertiary engine room was right here when I left it," the Doctor muttered. "Why are you playing silly buggers, old girl? Just because I've gone and changed again's no reason to hide things from me." He ran his hand along the TARDIS' wall, which quietly hummed in the key of I'm deliberately ignoring you, old man.
"Oh, I know what it is. You don't want your autogyric shock absorbers recalibrated, do you? I know recalibration itches, but it's good for you! Think how much better you'll feel afterwards!"
The humming hiccoughed and went right back to ignoring him.
"You can't hide the room forever. Well, you can, but I'd rather you didn't."
He strode down the hall, fingertips still brushing the wall, until the humming faded and was replaced by ... was that a moan? His ship didn't moan, and certainly not in that vocal range. No, that was a human vocal, as was the sigh that came next, and the slightly louder and longer moan, and did his newly enlarged nose detect the faintest hint of pheromones?
He pressed his ear to the nearest door. The pattering of shower water against ceramic tile; the wax and mango scent of Clara's shampoo; and a short, stuttering yelp in Clara's high-pitched voice –
Oh. He probably wasn't supposed to be hearing that.
He pressed his ear to the door harder.
Gasps now reverberating from the shower, and faint disruptions in the rhythmic pattern of the water, as if something were moving quickly below it, keeping the droplets from hitting the exact points they'd hit before.
The Doctor shifted against the door. Good thing these new trousers were looser.
At last, three sharp cries followed by slow, gulping breaths – followed by a thump and a yell completely unlike the shrieks of a moment before.
She'd hurt herself, his precious Clara, possibly unconscious in a pouring shower right at this moment, and even though it might be tricky to drown in such shallow water, the Doctor wasn't willing to take any chances. Neither was the TARDIS, apparently, since she slid the door open without him having to beg.
"Clara? Clara, are you okay?"
"Oi! You could knock, you know?" Clara shrank into a ball, relaxing only after the Doctor threw her a towel. "Thank you. I'm fine, by the way. Just slipped in the shower."
He sank onto the closed toilet and pointedly tried not to watch as Clara dried herself off. "It was the noise, you see. Well, I mean, the last noise, not the first one, I had some idea of what that might have been – and then the next one, well, then I thought perhaps I'd been wrong, but the nose knows" – he tapped that long beak of his – "and that's all right, you humans need your personal time, I understand, but then –"
"I wasn't –"
"Clara. Please. I'm more than a thousand years old, I think I know what ... that sort of thing sounds like."
Clara leaned closer to him, boxing him in with her arms. She was naked save for a fluffy pink towel that started at the swell of her breasts and ended just below the swell of her bottom, not that he'd noticed.
"Were you spying on me, you dirty old man?"
"Don't deny it. The old you might have sneaked an ear to the door, and for all I know this new you's got the same schoolboy crush on me. Can't tell yet. Still working you out a bit."
"I was just on my way to the tertiary engine room – need to recalibrate the autogyric shock absorbers –"
"... and you thought you'd stop by and listen to me having a wank."
He squirmed on the toilet, unwilling to look at her. "Well, watching you have a wank seemed like it might cross a line."
"Just a bit." Clara stood back, crossed her arms over her chest. "So, guess the schoolboy crush's still in full effect."
"I don't have a 'schoolboy crush,' as you call it. I'm far too old for such things."
"That's not what your wife says. In fact, just the other day she said something about a respiratory bypass coming in handy –"
"River?" he sputtered. "You've been talking to River? But how?"
Clara tapped her temple. "She sort of kept the line open after I saved all of you. So we got to talking every now and then ... and, well, sometimes more than talking ..."
"But she's a ghost. She's just data back in the Library. How can you and she ... oh, never mind, if anyone could sort out a way to do that, she could."
"It does beg the question: is it still wanking if the ghost of your dead wife is in my head, telling me what she'd do to me if she were really here?"
"One of the great philosophical questions of our time."
"She's still here," Clara murmured. "Do you want to talk to her?"
Hundreds of years after he'd thought he'd said goodbye to River, but she'd always been stubborn, and he'd always been unable to resist her.
"Of course," he said. "Come here, Clara."
She leaned in, the towel loosening at her chest to expose the top half of her breasts, all pink, sweet-smelling, a water droplet still beaded at the vee ... but no, he was here for River now, not Clara and her real live and probably very willing chest. He touched the sides of Clara's head, threading fingers through damp hair, and slipped inside her mind.
River was naked and draped across a red velvet chaise longue, her arms and legs strategically placed to hide some of the Doctor's favorite parts of her. Damned woman was still a tease long after she was dead.
"Hello, sweetie," she said. "My, it's been ages since I saw this body of yours. So handsome and sleek."
"See, now I know I'm going to see you again. You're usually much more careful about spoilers."
"Ah, but I didn't tell you how I'm going to see you. Or when. Or if I even see you in the flesh." She scanned him up and down. "Though if I haven't already seen you in the flesh, I'd certainly like to."
"What are you doing here, River?"
"I got bored. Besides, Clara and I are getting on very well."
"So I heard. Literally."
River smiled. "You naughty boy."
"Were you in there with her just now?"
"Ooh, such a private question." She sat up, dropping arms and legs and suddenly there she was, every lushly naked bit of her. "Would you like me to show you what Clara and I were up to?" She paused, closing her eyes for a moment. "No need to answer. I can monitor your blood flow and brainwaves from in here, and I do believe the answer is 'yes.'"
"Yes," Clara echoed from outside the tableau in the Doctor's head. "From where I'm standing – or from where part of him is, anyway – I'd say it's a 'yes.' I'm all for it too, as long as we go somewhere I'm not going to bruise my bum."
"Do I get a choice in the matter, or are you two just going to make assumptions based on involuntary physical responses?"
River tilted towards him from her chaise longue. Her breasts swayed. "What would you like to do, sweetie?"
"I'd like to work out where the TARDIS has put my bedroom," he said.
* * *
The Doctor could maintain his mental link with Clara as long as the two of them made regular physical contact, and that clearly wasn't going be a problem. She'd had him flat on his back within moments of showing her to the bedroom, fingers prying apart his shirt and spreading themselves wide across his chest, while her tongue slipped inside his mouth for an extended and thorough exploration.
The link created a peculiar double vision: where Clara's lips met the Doctor's, River's did as well, images of each woman swapping in his head as Clara's mouth and tongue continued their vitally important mission of discovery. River was no less adventurous, and laughter bubbled inside her. The Doctor couldn't read a ghost's mind, but if River had been alive, she'd have been just as eager as she was now; death was just a minor distraction when it came to getting what she wanted.
Meanwhile, Clara's towel, rucked up from the bottom where she was draped across him, and untucked where her chest rubbed against his, was now just as superfluous as the rest of the Doctor's clothes. He propped himself up on an elbow, hand bracing itself at Clara's back as he tugged away the towel and rolled half on top of her. Her hair, still wet from the shower, lay in close curlicues about her face.
Damned schoolboy crush. He really was too old for such things, which never stopped them from happening, which also never stopped him from succumbing to them when he knew better, though in his defence he had to admit that Clara's hand wriggling its way into his pants was a compelling argument in favour of the crushes and their consequences. He wondered whether he owed River a thank-you for warming Clara up in the shower.
"Yes," River said, voice rippling inside his head. Of course: he couldn't read her noncorporeal mind, but she could read him through the link. She chuckled deep in her throat, not that she had a real throat anymore, but the laugh sounded no different than it had before. And even as he lay atop Clara and gasped when she moved her hand just so, River's ghost trailed kisses along his neckline, tracing the jut of his shoulderblades, the ridges of his spine.
With his eyes open, he saw Clara: flushed cheeks, damp hair tangled in knots she'd no doubt regret once it dried, the blush spreading along her chest towards her breasts. He heard her sigh as he drew a nipple into his mouth, swirled his tongue along it until it peaked. He felt her human heart, beating rapid and vibrant beneath his fingers.
But when he closed his eyes, River was there, too.
She cupped his bum, slid lower towards his balls, stroking the sensitive skin beneath before slipping fingers back up towards his arsehole. He knew that signal, and it was past time to remove what he was wearing, really, regardless of whether his ghost wife had given him the I'm Going to Fuck You in the Arse sign. Certainly Clara would appreciate the nudity, and at the very least it would make further activities with her much simpler.
There: naked, even if it was probably going to be some time before he discovered exactly where he'd chucked that left sock. And Clara, who beckoned to him with crooked finger and a sly "Well, come on, then, let's see what you've got," drew him down to the bed and lay beside him, finger tracing his ribcage, hipbone, thigh, lingering near his waist.
"It's still you, isn't it?" said Clara. "I've met so many of you, but never like this."
"I have," River said. "Every one of them's a gift I never get tired of unwrapping."
"Less interrupting, River, more shagging."
A mock sigh. "If you insist."
Behind him, River's well-practiced fingers continued stroking, then gently pried apart his arse cheeks and inserted a smooth and familiar silicone shaft. Ah, her favourite, electric blue with a firm curve she knew he liked, and he groaned as River slowly began to move.
Clara, meanwhile, was working her way down his body with her mouth: first his chest, then abdomen, then the shock of her tongue at his navel (and River, laughing at that and thrusting a bit harder), then just at the base of his cock, then "Did you know you're all grey down here?"
"Probably? The cuffs usually match the collar with me. Although there was that one time in my fifth body ... long nights in the TARDIS, you get bored, Turlough had the most ginger hair dye ... anyway, this isn't a problem, is it?"
"No," she said, tilting her head to one side and examining him thoughtfully. She was such a logical and sensible girl, his Clara, but sometimes he did wonder what attracted her attention. "Just ... you. Getting used to you." She shoved at his shoulder, pushing him down on his back. "Only one way to find out, I suppose."
She drew him into her mouth slowly, tongue wrapping round his tip first, then down the head, down the shaft, her lips sealing firmly around him, tongue every bit as intrepid an explorer as before, and why on earth hadn't they done anything like this in his last body, or in any of the other bodies in which he'd met her? He'd always been somewhat blind in the "companion would like to shag me" range, but missing out on this one seemed like an especially poor oversight.
And then there was River, still pushing into him from behind, which made no physical sense whatsoever, what with him lying on the bed – but damned if he couldn't still feel the dildo deliciously rubbing against his prostate, River's breasts warm on his back, her kisses and nips at his neck.
There was an inherent ridiculousness to sexual contact – a truly dignified approach would have been genetic looming of some sort, or even a quiet, discreet spray over a clutch of eggs – but no, this had to involve sweat, and thrusting, and parts of his body literally changing size in response to Clara and River. Still, awkward bodily connections aside, he'd found a million worse ways to spend an afternoon – probably literally, now that he thought about it – and what did he have to complain about, really, when between the impressively eager work of his wife and his companion, his nerves sparkled and fizzed with delightful tension?
Behind him, River moaned, her breath catching. She sounded close, but then again, so was he: first time getting sucked off in this body, and by a new lover who truly understood that lingual flexibility was a gift best shared; first time with his ghost wife fucking him up the arse, which even he had to admit was a touch unusual as telepathic and/or sexual experiences went. Which begged the question of how River, lacking a physical body to excite, could be nearing climax, a query odd enough to distract him for at least 2.7382 seconds, after which he determined that River must be experiencing a sort of transitive property of orgasms: she was in Clara's brain, and by extension his own, and what they felt, she felt. Which begged further questions of how best to excite himself and Clara to most effectively affect River, which was the point where Clara brought her hand to bear on the Doctor as well, and he realised how little time he had to solve that particular problem.
None at all, as it happened.
He came with a groan, arching into Clara's mouth, and to her credit, she pulled back just in time to avoid choking, instead tightening her lips around him until he shuddered to a halt – at which point he heard the gasping breaths behind him, and pleasure rippled through him again as River reacted to his climax. Limp, sweaty, and entirely unsubstantial, she now rested along his side, the dildo having conveniently disappeared.
"Clara Oswald," she said, "I knew you were worth sticking around for."
Clara wiped her mouth on the edge of the bedsheet. "Better than a few filthy words in the shower, then?"
"Much better," the Doctor said. "Wait – did you mean me, or River?"
"Silly man. We haven't had any filthy words in the shower yet. Or filthy words anywhere that I can think of, though I think an actual shag probably beats that. Speaking of which ..."
"It might be a few minutes for certain activities," he began, "but let's see what we can come up with to pass the time."
Clara's lips, soft and salty; her breasts yielding beneath the Doctor's palm; the muffled squeak she made as his hand shifted from her chest, to her stomach, to the slippery ball of her clit; the groan low in her throat as his long fingers made their way inside her. And River, without even being asked, was there as well, long licks of her tongue between Clara's legs, never mind that the presence of Doctor's hand should have rendered that impossible. This ghost wife thing really was convenient: all the pleasure, none of the physical gymnastics.
Clara gasped into the Doctor's mouth when River began. "How – but we've only been able to talk before now –" A longer moan, whether from the Doctor's fingers curling inside her or River's patient tongue, he couldn't tell.
"Telepathy. I'm a telepath; you're not. I can make a bridge between you and River, and let me tell you" – really, was that what it felt like to have someone lick him out? He was going to have to try for female genitalia when the next regeneration rolled around – "all I'm getting is the backwash from what she's doing to you, and it's rather pleasant."
"Rather" – a quick intake of breath, Clara's thigh quivering beside his hand – "pleasant? Yeah, okay, we can ... ohh ... we can go with that."
She really was lovely, his Clara, all sweaty and out-of-control, a hand tightly gripping his arm, eyes squeezed shut, mouth barely open as she breathed in short bursts. He wedged another finger halfway inside her, drew them nearly all the way out, drove them back in hard as he sensed River speeding up. Clara's body curved to meet them both.
What little psychic backwash he could feel was intoxicating. Pressure between Clara's legs, so much delicious pressure, tense and nearly ready to tip over. Stronger was River's deep sense of satisfaction at finally getting to fuck his companion, and apparently very well, too. And as for the Doctor himself – well, there was certainly nothing wrong with knowing that even if his ghost wife hadn't been there to lend a hand, or at least a tongue, Clara was clearly enjoying the long and dexterous fingers this particular regeneration had been blessed with.
The ghost's tongue shifted to longer, harder licks, and Clara groaned; the Doctor settled his mouth around Clara's nipple, matching River's pace with his own tongue. River spiralling over Clara's clit, more rapidly now, and Clara, all delirious tension, was balancing on an increasingly tiny point –
The tongue and the fingers and the lips, one simultaneous blur of pleasure, and the Doctor heard Clara and River echoing in his head, a muted throb at his own groin as the backwash from his partners' orgasms took him. Clara beside him, soft sighs as her eyes fluttered open and her thighs relaxed against the bed.
He left his fingers inside her as she came down, removing them one by one when her breathing slowed.
"Right, okay," she said. "Clearly should have told you about me and River long before now. And you, River – why didn't you tell me we could be doing this?"
"I didn't realise myself it would turn out quite so well," River murmured, and inside the Doctor's head, she stretched languorously over her chaise longue. "I can see I'm going to have to visit more often."
"You weren't supposed to be here in the first place," the Doctor said. "But I think I can make an exception for you every now and then."
"Until the next time, then," she replied, and leaned in for a kiss.
He opened his eyes as the taste of her on his lips began to fade. Clara was still beside him, a faint smile on her face, her lips warm and really, actually there.
"And there will be a next time," Clara said. "Until then, Doctor, why don't I fill you in on everything you missed?"
His mouth brushed hers. "Don't leave out a single detail."